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Wednesday, May 31, 2006 

4th Generation Warfare

OpinionJournal - Featured Article - There is something rather odd in the way America has come to fight its wars since World War II.
For one thing, it is now unimaginable that we would use anything approaching the full measure of our military power (the nuclear option aside) in the wars we fight. And this seems only reasonable given the relative weakness of our Third World enemies in Vietnam and in the Middle East. But the fact is that we lost in Vietnam, and today, despite our vast power, we are only slogging along--if admirably--in Iraq against a hit-and-run insurgency that cannot stop us even as we seem unable to stop it. Yet no one--including, very likely, the insurgents themselves--believes that America lacks the raw power to defeat this insurgency if it wants to. So clearly it is America that determines the scale of this war. It is America, in fact, that fights so as to make a little room for an insurgency.

Certainly since Vietnam, America has increasingly practiced a policy of minimalism and restraint in war. And now this unacknowledged policy, which always makes a space for the enemy, has us in another long and rather passionless war against a weak enemy.

My Spin

I liked the article, espically where the author phrased this - So when America--the greatest embodiment of Western power--goes to war in Third World Iraq, it must also labor to dissociate that action from the great Western sin of imperialism. Thus, in Iraq we are in two wars, one against an insurgency and another against the past--two fronts, two victories to win, one military, the other a victory of dissociation. - however I think it is more than that

1) The West has lost the backbone for sustained conflcit since the end of WWII, it's hard to say if it is the people or the governments themselves since each culture has dealt with war differently for instance this is taken from the ABC interview with Bin Laden in 1998 -

- After our victory in Afghanistan and the defeat of the oppressors who had killed millions of Muslims, the legend about the invincibility of the superpowers vanished. Our boys no longer viewed America as a superpower. So, when they left Afghanistan, they went to Somalia and prepared themselves carefully for a long war. They had thought that the Americans were like the Russians, so they trained and prepared. They were stunned when they discovered how low was the morale of the American soldier. America had entered with 30,000 soldiers in addition to thousands of soldiers from different countries in the world. ... As I said, our boys were shocked by the low morale of the American soldier and they realized that the American soldier was just a paper tiger. He was unable to endure the strikes that were dealt to his army, so he fled, and America had to stop all its bragging and all that noise it was making in the press after the Gulf War in which it destroyed the infrastructure and the milk and dairy industry that was vital for the infants and the children and the civilians and blew up dams which were necessary for the crops people grew to feed their families. Proud of this destruction, America assumed the titles of world leader and master of the new world order. After a few blows, it forgot all about those titles and rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace, dragging the bodies of its soldiers. America stopped calling itself world leader and master of the new world order, and its politicians realized that those titles were too big for them and that they were unworthy of them. I was in Sudan when this happened. I was very happy to learn of that great defeat that America suffered, so was every Muslim.

This is the most important part -
They were stunned when they discovered how low was the morale of the American soldier. America had entered with 30,000 soldiers in addition to thousands of soldiers from different countries in the world. ... As I said, our boys were shocked by the low morale of the American soldier and they realized that the American soldier was just a paper tiger. - Basically we lost because we were afraid to fight, we look tuff on paper and our myth of invincibility was daughting but in practice we don't fight to win we fight to contain and we are afraid to risk anything. We have become to selfish for war.

2)America and Europe are afraid to fight for fear of being drawn into a new World War, or maybe it's the confines for the new information age. There is no way the US government could have another Iwo Jima where thousands are killed the media would be all over it before the first bullet was fired. Moreover the public has become more selfish and disinterested in the affairs of the rest of the world. Until WWI the US was really an isolationist state but the US government has the prospects of war outside it's own borders and expanded our sphere of unfluence. Really it was the Spanish American war which showed the US the old Empires are dead and ripe for the picking. The American public was still living in the "city on a hill" mentality and saw it as their duty to "help" the rest of the world. Though the key was the public only knew what it had to, that is the first rule of warfare. For the good of the country the public often needs to remain in the dark.

3) The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and lost a 10 years battle against a small well trained but unorganized fighting force, the US lost the war in Vietnamn fighting the same type of soldier. The tatics used exposed the great flaw in the conventional warfare fought in WWII, it is designed for large battles against well defined combatants. The termanology is 4th generation warfare -

- One way to tell that 4GW is truly new is that we don't even have a name for its participants—typically dismissing them as "terrorists," "extremists," or "thugs." Name calling, though, is not often an effective substitute for strategy.

The attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center dispelled the notion that 4GW is simple "terrorism." But one can sympathize with our political and military leaders, because 4GW is a strange form of warfare, one where military force plays a smaller role than in earlier generations, supporting initiatives that are more political, diplomatic, and economic.
Similarly, because practitioners of 4GW will be transnational groups without territorially-based armies, much of their activity will probably resemble "guerilla warfare" or "low intensity conflict." These highly irregular practices have enabled groups that are weak, militarily, to defeat larger, stronger forces, and they have deep roots in the history of war. The word "guerilla" itself, for example, dates back 200 years to Napoleon's occupation of Spain.
A premise of 4GW is that the world itself has changed, so that terrorism and guerilla warfare—and other elusive techniques that are still being invented—are now ready to move to center stage. These techniques focus not so much on the enemy's military capabilities (although these may be attacked) but directly against the will of the enemy to continue the war. All of the operations by a 4GW force must support this goal. In its most fully developed form, there may be no real "battles" at all, as was virtually the case in the Sandinista take-over of Nicaragua in 1979.
There was a 4GW component to the Vietnam War—the campaign by North Vietnam, of which the Viet Cong insurgency formed a key part, to turn US public opinion against the war. Once this was accomplished, and the US withdrew, the South could be finished off by conventional means, as is not unusual for the final phase of a traditional guerrilla war. Similarly, the goal of the mujaheddin in Afghanistan was not to defeat the Red Army in some decisive battle, but to persuade the Soviet leadership to withdraw it, and al-Qa'ida appears to have achieved similar results in Spain.

To summarize, fourth generation warfare appears to be evolving along two complementary lines:

One of the participants is a transnational organization (if it were dedicated to taking over the government of a particular state, we would be dealing with ordinary insurgency, which has always had transnational elements);
The focus (Schwerpunkt) of the non-state player's operations is to collapse a state morally, that is, to rob it of its will to continue the fight.
Fourth generation war will not replace second and third generation conflict but will co-exist alongside it. As the state system continues to weaken, however, it will be the warfare of choice for non-state organizations that wish to confront state militaries trained and equipped for the earlier generations.

This line in particular sums it all up - 4GW more resembles a boxer versus a viral infection.

4) War needs to be redefinded and fought differently, basically the West needs a highly trained force be it CIA, Inerpol, M-16, that is free to conduct what is neceassry to fight the enemy. However to do so would violate the freedoms protected in a democracy. Organizations like the Mujahedeen have total freedom to do what is necessary and there is nothing holding them back but their own imiginations. Essentially it's like a large scale game of cops and robbers the CIA is the cops and Bin Laden is the criminal (metaphorically of course) the CIA has it's hands tied by the constitution but Bin Laden can do what ever he likes since to him there is no higher power but Allah and he belives he has a monopoly on his faith and twists it to meet his needs. Imagine such a force: multilingual troops, all of whose leaders have a sophisticated understanding of foreign cultures, and the ability to not only lead US troops but also navigate within foreign communities – gathering and using intelligence, playing both its elites and common people as an experienced angler does trout. Either we need an army of super men to do just that or we need to better use the tools at hand to fight these wars.

5) Education and rebuilding efforts are the only way to fight this war since the public of western nations lacks the backbone for sustained conflict.With the rise of the Information age no one source has a monopoly on the truth, basically if the US hopes to turn the tide of terrorism it needs to educate (not re-educate) the public as to what it's doing. It's important that the people are allowed to believe what they want to believe but they need to hear both sides from objective sources. As of right now the only real news outlet in the Middle East is the Mullahs preaching to the people. Most people don't have electricity let alone CNN so there is no way for them to hear our viewpoint. So we need to speak to them in a language that works and plays to our strengths. The West has more money than the Third- world could ever hope to possess, now we need to turn our considerable resources and start rebuilding the Middle East, Africa, South America and South Asia. To do this will require the combined efforts of both the US and Europe since even the US does not possess wealth enough to complete this task. If you remove the midigating factors that couse poverty you help to erradicat the motivation in becoming a terrorist. I don't mean totally rebuilding each country like the US did in Japan or Germany but helping the locals build a good foundation from which to work with. When people are happier because of US involvement perhaps they will begin hate the West less and perhaps everyone will be able to get along. Plus if the US is visibally helping out no one can deny that. Thats when the education process begins only when people can see the US as something other than the evil empire can we hope to fight the war on terror.

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